Have you found yourself apologizing for being late to your job, your kids football practice or a business meeting? In Gwinnett, this is a normal occurrence. It is necessary to build an extra 60 minutes into your daily schedule just to deal with traffic.This should come as no surprise based on the fact that Georgia's population growth has ranked in the top five in the United States while our investment in transportation (funding) has ranked 50th. A recent report listed Atlanta tied for second with Washington, D.C., and San Francisco in annual delays per traveler. While the statistics are clear for the need for new investment in transportation, real-life examples of the quality-of-life issues related to traffic congestion and loss of production and jobs are played out every day.
Recently, my son's sports program made the decision to withdraw from a league that had multiple games in Cobb County and one of the reasons cited was the logistics in moving the team from Gwinnett to Cobb in the late afternoon along Interstate 85, Interstate 285, and Interstate 75. A company in the area recently made the decision to relocate its business and numerous jobs simply because of the loss of production hours dealing with traffic. This should not be.
Gwinnett and the metro Atlanta region will have the opportunity to provide for investment not only in our future, but for immediate traffic improvements today with the Transportation Investment Act referendum scheduled for the summer of 2012. A draft list of projects for Gwinnett and the 10-county metro Atlanta region has been created through the leadership of Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson and Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash and several other metro Atlanta leaders. This list will be presented Monday at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (GJAC) in Lawrenceville from 5 to 7 p.m. I encourage residents and businesses alike to view the project list of over $800M-plus of Gwinnett projects and $6B-plus of metro Atlanta region projects over the next 10 years and to ensure that your issues related to traffic congestion are addressed.
These projects hit the big traffic hot spots across the county, including grade separations along Ga. Highway 316, a new interchange along I-85 at Ga Highway 324 (Gravel Springs Road), new overpasses over I-85 in Duluth and Norcross, road widening of Ga. Highway 20 (Nelson Brogdon Boulevard), Ga. Highway 120 (Abbots Bridge Road), U.S. Highway 23 (Buford Highway), Ga. Highway 141 (Peachtree Parkway), Five Forks Trickum Road, and transit including express buses. The projects also hit areas that will affect Gwinnett commuters, such as the I-85 and I-285 interchange, Ga. Highway 400, and many more.
The time is now to offer comments and suggestions on modifications to the list of projects. In my opinion, the future of Gwinnett and metro Atlanta's success hinges on the final list of projects and the successful passage of the referendum in 2012. While Gwinnett and the metro Atlanta area deal with the effects of horrid traffic congestion conditions, surrounding areas like Charlotte, N.C., have made significant investment in transportation and use metro Atlanta's congestion as a marketing tool to attract business away to their community.
Many people want to look back on the lack of investment or the perceived mismanagement of transportation over the years. I challenge businesses and residents alike to look forward to the proposed investment which will help to create sustainable communities, better quality of life, and new business and job growth. I for one am ready to reclaim those hours needlessly spent sitting in traffic and put them to better use.
Chuck Warbington is executive director of the Gwinnett Community Improvement District.